TJM responds to the government’s new net zero plans

Posted on March 30, 2023
An offshore wind turbine farm

The UK Government is expected to make a series of green announcements on Thursday 30 March, including an updated net zero strategy. The day was expected to be billed as a ‘Green Day’ but seems to have been demoted to an ‘Energy Security Day’.

The government is legally obliged, by the end of March, to update its strategy for reaching net zero by 2050 after a court last year found that the plans were incomplete and lacked sufficient detail to meet obligations under the 2008 Climate Change Act. It also needs to respond to the net zero review by Conservative politician Chris Skidmore.

UK policy on climate, the environment, biodiversity and energy are all significantly impacted by trade and investment deals. All of the Government’s scoping assessments predict increases in emissions as a result of the deals. Provisions including those on investment, intellectual property and procurement can make it harder to introduce measures to help workers access new, local green jobs, support the rapid roll out of green technology.

Ruth Bergan, Director of the Trade Justice Movement said:

“A week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave a ‘final warning’, we know the window to avert the climate catastrophe is very narrow. The Government needs to be much more ambitious if it is going to successfully deliver on its legally binding 2050 target. The IPCC has repeatedly said that we need to use all the policy tools available, yet the UK has still not aligned its trade policy with its climate commitments.

“The announcements today could be an opportunity to correct this. We’re looking for the Government to put forward important measures to ensure trade and investment deals help meet legal carbon reduction targets. Immediate steps must include exiting the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and excluding Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) from future agreements. These provisions effectively compensate polluters for measures to tackle climate change and are making the costs prohibitive.

“In the longer term, we need to look at how provisions in other key areas help or hinder our green ambitions. And the policy decisions will need to ensure that the poorest in society, both in the UK and overseas, are not negatively affected by UK trade and investment decisions.”


Image: An offshore wind turbine farm by Andrew Martin from Pixabay